Red Sox

Red Sox

OAKLAND -- Yoan Moncada's trip through the minors was a relatively brief one. After signing with the Red Sox at the age of 19 in February of 2015, he reached the big leagues in less than 19 months, bypassing Triple A along the way.

But as Moncada somewhat sheepishly revealed on his first day in the majors Friday, he thought the trip was going to be even quicker.

"When I first came to the U.S.,'' said Moncada through a translator, "I thought you signed and right away, you go to the big leagues. But soon I realized it wasn't that easy. You have to go to the minors. I had to stay focused to do what I had to do and stayed the course.''

Moncada, who was not in the lineup Friday night but will be in the starting lineup Saturday, tried to call his mother in Cuba Wednesday night after Portland Sea Dogs manager Carlos Febles gave him the news of his promotion, but she didn't answer.

(Moncada did get into the game in the bottom of the seventh, taking over at third base while Travis Shaw shifted to first. In his first major league at-bat in the top of the eighth, he walked and scored from first on Shaw's double to right. An inning later, he came up again and struck out)

By the time he reached her Thursday morning, it was old news. She had already heard, but Moncada was still trying to process it.


"I felt very happy and proud,'' he said, "It was definitely a surprise to me. But she was very excited and the family was excited. That's what you come to the country for -- to play baseball and hopefully make the majors.''

As the Sox did with Andrew Benintendi - who, like Moncada, jumped from Double A to the majors -- the Sox thought it best to give Moncada a day to acclimate himself. And there were some fine points to go over, too.

"There was a little bit of a dress rehearsal (earlier in the afternoon),'' said John Farrell, "and a walk-through, particularly with our overshifts and the responsibilities of the third baseman. So he spent some time with (infield instructor Brian Butterfield), walking through placement on the field, some of the terminology that he'll be (exposed) to for the first time here. And it will be a day for him to just sit and watch a game."

Going forward, the Sox plan to have Moncada playing against most righthanders, with Aaron Hill playing against lefties. Hill, too, could come off the bench as a defensive replacement in late innings.

Where that leaves Travis Shaw is uncertain, but Shaw's second-half slump leaves him fighting for playing time.

"He's not a forgotten guy, I will tell you that,'' said Farrell of Shaw.

Moncada has limited experience in the U.S. at third, having played just 10 games at third at Portland after shifting from second last month.

But as Moncada and Farrell both emphasized, Moncada actually played more third than anywhere else in his native Cuba, so the position is hardly new to him.

"The only difference I see (between third and second),'' Moncada said, "is the double play is a different dynamic. It's more about reaction, as opposed second base where it's more agility-based.''

"Granted, this is a quicker pace and (higher) level,'' acknowledged Farrell. "But he wouldn't be here if we didn't think he could step in and contribute. We feel like he can step in and give us some impact with the bat, particularly against some righthanded pitching.''